ExpatBriefing: Saudi Arabia Approves New Residence Permit Law

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By Hans Esser, for Expatbriefing.com 29 May, 2019

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have relaxed the country's immigration and residence laws by changing the regulations for residence permits, or "iqamas."

King Salman tabled the Special Privilege Iqama Law before the Consultative Assembly, which it approved it on May 8.

The changes are intended to attract wealthy and highly skilled individuals to the country by giving them certain privileges. Holders of a special privilege iqama will be able to acquire visitor visas for their relatives. In addition, they may hire domestic workers, own and rent out property, and move freely within the country (excepting the holy cities of Mecca or Medina for non-Muslims.)

There will be two types of special privilege iqama: an annual permit that can be renewed, or one valid for an indefinite period. Though unconfirmed, fees are expected to be SAR100,000 (USD26,666) for the renewable iqama or SAR800,000 for the indefinite one.

Requirements for either iqama include a valid passport, sufficient financial resources, good health, and a clean criminal record. The government may also issue iqamas to highly specialized professionals at its discretion where these requirements are not met. Special privilege iqamas will be regulated and managed by a new special privilege iqama centre.

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